University of Otago 2014

Constructing Frames flyerOn March 21, 2014 I presented “Constructing frames: Goffman, Bateson, and frame analysis as a neglected part of social construction theory” at the University of Otago, in Dunedin, New Zealand. This was my second talk at Otago (description of the first was posted in 2012). Last time I was hosted by the Department of Languages and Cultures; this time by Media, Film and Communication.

Despite meeting late on a Friday afternoon, there was a large crowd, so local dedication to scholarly conversations is impressive. A personal first for me was having someone, in this case Rosemary Overell, tweet about my talk as it was occurring.

The fact that faculty and graduate students from across the campus attended on a Friday afternoon was even more impressive. In addition to multiple members of the Media, Film and Communication department, I talked to people from Theatre Studies, Sociology, Anthropology, Tourism, German, the Higher Education Development Centre, Applied Sciences, the Centre for Science Communication, and several other parts of the university.

Leeds-Hurwitz, Bourk
Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz and Michael Bourk

My thanks to my host, Michael Bourk, who organized the event, to Vijay Devadas, Head of Department, who supported it with a generous reception and dinner, and to department staff members Maureen and Paulette for managing the details. In the days before and after the talk, I met with several graduate students and faculty members about a variety of other subjects, ranging from intercultural communication to ethnographic methods. I look forward to continued conversations on these and other topics, and hope to have the chance to visit the University of Otago again in the future.

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, Director
Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Erving Goffman book-collaborative project

One of the international collaborative projects that developed as a result of my 2009 stay at the Collegium de Lyon (France) was a book on Erving Goffman with Prof. Yves Winkin, of the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, that has been in process for several years. That book has just been published.

Erving Goffman by Winkin and Leeds-Hurwitz

Winkin, Y., & Leeds-Hurwitz, W. (2013). Erving Goffman: A critical introduction to media and communication theory. New York: Peter Lang.

My thanks to Yves Winkin for inviting me to co-author the book; to Dave Park, the series editor, for considering Goffman an essential communication theorist; and to all the editorial staff at Peter Lang, who were quite efficient once we submitted the manuscript.

Although Erving Goffman never claimed to be a media or communication scholar, his work is definitely relevant to, and has already served as a substantial resource for, those who are. This is the first detailed presentation and analysis of his life and work intended specifically for a communication audience. While primarily an introduction to Goffman’s work, those already familiar with his ideas will also learn something new. In addition to summarizing Goffman’s major concepts and his influence on other scholars, the book includes an intellectual biography, explication of his methods, and an example of how to extend his ideas. Readers are invited to consider Goffman as a lens through which to view much of the pattern evident in the social world. Goffman’s work always appealed to the general public (several of his books became bestsellers), and so this book has implications for those who are interested in the role of media or communication in their own lives as well as those who study it professionally.

For those interested, the book is available either directly from Peter Lang, or from Amazon.

CFP Reclaiming Stigma

Call for Manuscripts:  Special Issue of Communication Studies
“Reclaiming Stigma: Alternative Explorations of the Construct”

Guest Editors:  Mike Allen (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)  & Jessica J. Eckstein (Western Connecticut State University)
Submission Deadline:  June 1, 2013

Communication research on identity issues tends to nominally reference seminal works from previous decades and then proceed to study specific, affected groups. Particularly in cases of research on stigmatized identities, scholars tend to cite Goffman (1963). With few exceptions, the nuances of this construct – a subject of potentially great interest to communication scholars – are rarely explored.

Despite the advent of increasingly immediate forms of interpersonal and public communication, the use of labels, interpersonal behaviors, and complicated rhetorical constructions related to stigma have become more taken-for-granted by scholars using methods of social framing and influence. In descending order of typical approaches by Communication scholars, published research has examined (a) if and then who is stigmatized, (b) how it affects that particular group of people, and (c) what can or should be done about it, with the latter technique inclining toward simplistic prescription of a “stop doing it” admonishment. Missing from this discussion is examination of the construction of stigma.

Rather than simplistically labeling a group as “stigmatized” and/or jumping to the assumption that this label is always negative, a more complex examination would search for the underlying mechanisms at play. This special issue of Communication Studies seeks to address this dearth in the field by seeking diverse scholarship to scrutinize the issue and provoke scholarly controversy by exploring the nature of stigma. For example:
*When can stigma be good? In what ways might it be productive to reinforce stigma of particular groups? Perhaps some identities (e.g., Homophobes? Misogynists? Abusers? KKK? Liberals? Conservatives?
Celebrities?) should be stigmatized. What would be the implications of those practices?
*When is stigma bad? What are the communicative implications when using stigma? Do stigmas reflect a shorthand attribution of group membership?
*Can an individual be stigmatized without reference to group membership?
*How has stigma operated, in past or present-day cultures, desirably?
*If we should stigmatize, how would we decide who/what to stigmatize?
*Who, or what, would determine which stigmas to enforce – interpersonally and/or culturally?
*Is stigma really an arbitrary decision made to effect serious, negative consequences (e.g., social exclusion/discrimination, punishment)?
*If stigma is a created and fixable difference, what are actual, feasible means (i.e., applied stigma management tactics – personal and political) to address interpersonal stigma for those affected – interpersonally and societally?

All scholars of Communication embracing diverse theoretical and methodological perspectives are invited. Original works referencing current, societal exemplars are encouraged. Both full-length manuscripts exploring these phenomena (through application of personal research or analyses) and shorter critical thought-pieces are welcome. Whatever the approach, this issue will go beyond simple designation of stigmatized identities to explore the stigma in all its intricacies – standard and contentious.

All manuscripts will be subjected to a process of blind peer-review.
Questions about the appropriateness of a potential submission or for additional information should be directed to Dr. Jessica Eckstein.

Deadline for submissions is June 1, 2013. Manuscripts should be prepared in accordance with the most recent edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association or the Chicago Manual of Style. Submissions should conform to the Instructions for Authors followed by Communication Studies and be sent electronically to the journal via the ScholarOne Manuscripts website. NOTE: All finalized submissions should specify “For Stigma Special Issue” in the online forms (e.g., cover letter, Special Issue checkbox, etc.). If you have any special requests or need additional information on this journal’s submission process, please contact the journal’s editor, Robert Littlefield.